A Texas megachurch has seen incredible things happen since planting a church inside the state's largest maximum-security prison six months ago.
But what happened last week was a first in the history of the prison.
Coffield prison inmates worship at the newest campus of Gateway Church.
(Gateway Church Photography)
warden at Coffield Unit in Anderson County, which is located about 90
minutes outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth area and houses roughly 4,200
criminal offenders, invited Gateway Church to baptize a handful of
inmates in administrative segregation, or solitary confinement, where
they spend 23 hours of their day behind solid, steel doors with air
holes in them because of how dangerous they are.
Niles Holsinger, Gateway Coffield Prison campus pastor, told Fox News what he witnessed last Wednesday was "mind-blowing."
of the men – confirmed gang or cartel members – were brought into the
gymnasium, shackled hand and foot and around the waist, and they had to
clear the prison because of safety concerns.
NOTORIOUS GANG LEADER NOW PREACHES JESUS: 'I'M A RADICAL SOLDIER FOR GOD'
couldn’t lift their arms above their waist, each one has a guard on
each arm, and wouldn’t leave their side until they were in the water,"
Three of them were placed on one side. Two men on
the other. A field guard told the pastor it was because they were from
rival gangs and the only way for them to leave the gangs or cartels is
Holsinger spoke to each one of the guys in solitary confinement, each with a violent history.
have tried it my way my whole life and it’s gotten me here," one of the
prisoners told the campus pastor. "I want to try it God’s way…we’re
going to come out of the water as new men."
One by one the men were baptized.
Inmates at the Coffield Unit, a maximum security prison in
Anderson County, Texas, are the newest campus for Gateway Church of
guys from two different gangs professed the same Lord and were baptized
in the same water together and they walked out together, guards not
holding onto their arms anymore because God had done something in their
life," Holsinger said.
But it was what he saw afterward that shocked him.
Each of the inmates, dripping with water and fully clothed, were trembling in fear.
guys literally know they’re putting their life at risk and they’re
doing it anyway," the campus pastor said. "Never one time in my life
have I felt like my decision to follow Christ has put me in danger or
discomfort...for these guys to come in and they were so humble and
gentle...to see them walking out trembling, they maybe been afraid for
their life not knowing what would happen, but they did not regret the
decision they had just made. That was mind-blowing to me."
remaining 14 prisoners in solitary confinement will be baptized in July
and the church is also planning on taking several thousand Bibles to
supply the prison for individual and new inmates in a partnership with
the local radio station, KCBI.
Gateway plans to launch six more prison campuses throughout Texas by the start of 2020.